Inside Pitch: Young Needs to Hit

The Tigers will activate Dmitri Young on Friday, but the Tigers aren't going to let Young simply take his time in returning to game shape - if he wants to play, he's going to have to produce. Plus, why are the Tigers getting rid of Alexis Gomez as opposed to Jordan Tata?

The Tigers will activate designated hitter Dmitri Young from the disabled list Friday, but manager Jim Leyland says Young had better be ready to hit when he comes back.

"Dmitri has been a professional hitter," Leyland said. "If he comes back and hits, it'll be great. If he comes back and doesn't hit, I'll play somebody else. That's what this is all about up here -- production. I'm assuming that Dmitri's going to hit, but I'm not going to be doing a lot of experimenting and giving time at the expense of the rest of the team. I'm not doing a trial thing with Dmitri. He's going to have to produce."

A translator is not required for that.

Leyland has been mixing and matching his designated hitters since Young went on the disabled list April 15 with a strained quad muscle. It's been useful for resting his regulars and giving his bench some playing time, particularly outfielders Alexis Gomez, who will be cut to make room for Young, and Marcus Thames.

Young was urged by teammates and Leyland to go to Double-A Erie on a rehab assignment. The manager also told him to stay an extra day or two if results weren't satisfactory.

Young was 0-for-3 Thursday after going 1-for-4 Wednesday (that included two errors as the first baseman).

He hit .219 in the eight games he played prior to going on the disabled list, with a double, three RBIs and seven strikeouts. Detroit needs Leyland's bat. He's the normal fifth hitter, he provides some left-handed punch (he's a switch hitter) in a largely right-handed lineup, and he's the Tigers' most viable candidate to give first baseman Chris Shelton an occasional day of rest.

But Leyland already has served notice. If Young doesn't hit, he will be the one resting.

REPLAY: Mike Napoli and Vladimir Guerrero each hit home runs Thursday, and Kevin Gregg (2-0) checked Detroit on three hits over seven innings to help the Angels end a six-game losing streak with a 7-2 victory over the Tigers, who had won six in a row.

Justin Verlander (3-3) gave up four runs, three earned, on nine hits over six innings to end Detroit's 6-1 homestand.

Alexis Gomez, who gets cut from Detroit's roster Friday, tripled and scored the tying run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Magglio Ordonez. Curtis Granderson had a sacrifice fly for the Tigers in the eighth.

--OF Alexis Gomez will be designated for assignment Friday when Detroit activates DH Dmitri Young from the disabled list.

If Gomez isn't claimed on waivers by Tuesday, Detroit will outright his contract to Triple-A Toledo. He was playing for Toledo and brought up when Young was placed on the disabled list April 15.

The news came less than 24 hours after what Gomez said was the biggest hit of his major league career, an eighth-inning RBI single Wednesday that gave Detroit a 2-1 win over the Angels.

"I'm not going to put myself down," Gomez said. "I'm going to keep my head up and try the best I can and see what happens. I hope the team continues to play like they are right now. They're playing pretty good baseball. I feel on this team that something good will happen. "If they think they're making the right decision, that's OK. I feel happy with the job I've done here."

Gomez played in 13 games for Detroit after being brought up but hit just .222.

"We had about three or four scenarios," manager Jim Leyland said. "We thought them out, and this was the decision we made, which I think is the right decision."

--DH Dmitri Young gets activated off the disabled Friday when Detroit opens a three-city road trip in Minnesota.

Young was 1-for-7 in two rehab assignment games for Double-A Erie. He had the right to refuse the assignment.

But manager Jim Leyland said Young, who was hitting just .219 at the time he suffered a quad injury and went on the disabled list April 15, will have to hit immediately to get playing time.

--RHP Justin Verlander walked just one batter but said Thursday he didn't have real good control against the Angels.

"Justin just didn't have his good stuff today," manager Jim Leyland said. "He hung some breaking balls. He didn't have his location. It wasn't that he was walking people, but his location in the strike zone was not good. And that pretty much sums it up."

Verlander gave up nine hits and four runs, three earned, to Los Angeles.

--RHP Jordan Tata really didn't have to worry about being sent to the minors when Detroit activated DH Dmitri Young from the disabled list. Tata has pitched well in relief for Detroit in limited appearances, but the Tigers would like him to hone his starting skills in the minors. They see him as an eventual member of their rotation.

Instead, Detroit said it will cut OF Alexis Gomez when it activates Young.

Tata hadn't pitched in six days until he entered Thursday's game and gave up a Vladimir Guerrero home run.

Cutting him was not an option, however.

"I can tell you this," manager Jim Leyland said, "and you can take this to the bank -- I'd rather have 13 pitchers than 11."

--C Ivan Rodriguez got another day off Thursday, a day game following a night contest. Manager Jim Leyland has tried to rest Rodriguez once a week, typically a day game. Rodriguez is expected to be back in the lineup Friday at Minnesota.

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